Host: Sustainable & Synthetic Biotechnology Group (Prof. Lauersen)
Microalgae are rapidly growing, low-input requiring, sun light-utilizing microorganisms capable of converting carbon dioxide into various natural products. Their cellular compartmentalization as well as photosynthetic apparatus depend on robust turnover of isoprenoids. Green algae are ancestrally related to land plants and can offer a benign environment for the heterologous production of plant isoprenoids, but previously have been underdeveloped as biotechnological hosts due to a lack of suitable engineering tools. Recently established transgene design strategies have enabled metabolic engineering investigations to probe algal cellular metabolism and determine capacities for isoprenoid production. New insights into the green algal isoprenoid metabolism will be presented, including carbon partitioning capacities, the localization and size of precursor pools, as well as limiting factors towards efficient heterologous production of isoprenoid hydrocarbons. Recent engineering achievements indicate fundamental plasticity in the (heterologous) isoprenoid metabolism of green algae while highlighting their potential as renewable and favorable host organisms for the sustainable generation of these products.